Seven Wonders of the Tech World

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Today, 07/07/07, the winners of a popular vote to become the new world wonders will be revealed. Naturally, we’ve also offered our personal picks for the Seven Wonders of the World – Tech Edition. Let the debates begin.

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Googleplex

The GoogleplexGoogle has rapidly become a permanent cornerstone in the technology world, so it’s an obvious first stop on our tour of the Seven Tech Wonders. The building now known as the Googleplex was originally occupied by Silicon Graphics, Inc. and purchased by Google in June of 2006.

Creativity was clearly a priority after Google took over – no expense was spared in designing the luxurious environment. The Google headquarters boasts two swimming pools, gourmet restaurants, game rooms, free laundry and salons complete with a masseuse – definitely not your average American office building. And leave it to Google to over-accommodate their creative people: the amenities are all available 24/7, because the best ideas don’t always come between 9 and 5.

Check out photos on Flickr, Time’s pictorial or Fortune’s video tour. Maybe even run it past your CEO next time he or she is brainstorming employee incentive programs.

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Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)

Industrial Light and Magic’s datacenter is a wonder of the world in any category. Datacenters can be big, they can be expensive, they can be complicated, and then they can be ILM. The ILM facility spans 13,500 square feet with more than 600 miles of network cables; a 3000 processor server farm (expands to 5000 after hours from desktop computers); and about 170 terabytes of storage – all bound together by a 340-node, 10 GB backbone. (For those who may not understand just how big and how fast that actually is: the entire internet doesn’t even run at that speed.)

The need for all this data comes from the digital effects of such films as Transformers, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Since creating the first fully computer-generated sequence for a movie in Star Trek II, ILM has been on the bleeding edge of digital effects, and the profits from these movies are vital contributors to datacenter upgrades.

[youtube]y2bhsv82HRA[/youtube]

Here’s a thought to wrap your brain around: if you’re downloading movies or music on a T1 line (likely the speed of the connection at your office) 24 hours a day, it would take about 25 years to download ILM’s 150+ terabytes. (Thanks Michael!!)
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International Space Station (ISS)

Next stop on the Tech Wonder tour: the International Space Station. If you look out of the left side of the bus, and maybe slightly upward, you will see the ISS: the stuff Sci-Fi movies are made of. The model for the station had been in the concept stages since the early 80′s and was finally put into orbit in 1998.

The ISS recently made the news with what could have become disastrous: computer failure resulted in losing thruster and environmental controls. After less than one day of being inoperative, the computers were brought back online and full control was restored. A power surge from the newly installed solar arrays is believed to have been the major contributor to the failure.

The future is uncertain for the ISS, however there are plans for future missions as far out as 2010. The ISS has been considered a pit stop for missions to the moon and even Mars. And according to NASA, July 9, 2007 will bring an announcement of a new mission to Mars.

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Apple’s Retail Opus

As our tour bus makes its descent back to planet Earth, you’ll notice a bright white light glowing from a glass cube in Manhattan, New York. It’s the first Apple store to stay open 24/7, and is easily one of the most remarkable sites the retail tech world – especially when compared to the measly garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built the first Apple computer. The grand opening of the underground concept store was hyped by Apple enthusiasts worldwide, and drew thousands of gawkers on opening day. The store is easily the most visual representation of Apple’s modern, clean design experience. Take a virtual tour of the Manhattan store to experience it for yourself.

(Side note: The garage where the first HP computer was built was just recognized as a national landmark. While HP’s inventions changed the business world, the idea of creating a PC for the average user is possibly a more groundbreaking feat, and the impact more profound. How many of us remember playing Oregon Trail or Montezuma’s Revenge on our elementary school’s Apple II? Personally, I loved Captain Goodnight!)

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Fremont Street Experience (sound!)

Next stop: Vegas. The Viva Vision canopy is one of the flashiest examples of technology you’ll see. Twelve million LED’s light up 1400 feet of canopy with 220 speakers producing 550,000 watts of sound providing the music for each show. The previous setup for this light show was controlled by 32 separate computers located in various kiosks along the street. Since the upgrade in 2004, now only 10 computers control the show from a central control room.

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Hubble Space Telescope

Far away from the bright lights of Vegas, orbiting the earth at five miles per second, this marvel of astronomy explores the deepest corners of space. From Hubblesite.org:

The Hubble Space Telescope’s launch in 1990 sped humanity to one of its greatest advances in that journey… Its position above the atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet, gives it a view of the universe that typically far surpasses that of ground-based telescopes.

Hubble is one of NASA’s most successful and long-lasting science missions. It has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth, shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy. Its gaze has helped determine the age of the universe, the identity of quasars, and the existence of dark energy.

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Kryptos

KryptosThis final stop is probably the least well-known tech wonder. The monument was dedicated in 1990 and sits on the grounds of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It consists of four encrypted messages, three of which have been solved, initially by hand and then by a Pentium II computer.

The final message requires clues other than the cipher on the monument. The messages probably won’t make sense until the final code is solved, when it is, the mystery to life will be revealed! Then someone will just come up with another complicated, seemingly-uncrackable code.

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Which wonders did we miss? What’s your favorite wonder?
Please drop us a line or leave a comment below.

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17 thoughts on “Seven Wonders of the Tech World

  1. Paul McNamara says:

    Very cool list there … and probably truer to the original “7 Wonders” than the one here at Network World. But, if anyone’s interested in the “7 Wonders of the Internet,” check it out here:
    http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/16806

  2. yeah, i caught that, too.

  3. i think he needs to redo his math for the t1 downloading a TB. a full t1 equals 1.544 megabit/second. 1 terabyte = 8,388,608 megabits. Divide that by 1.544 megabits/second and it takes 5,433,036.27 seconds to download. That equals approximately 62 days. So to download the entire ILM datacenter at 150 terabytes would take 9,300 days or 25 years on a T1. Nowhere near 180,000+ years.

  4. Tech.Chick.Blog » links for 2007-07-11 says:

    [...] Seven Wonders of the Tech World | The Remarketer (tags: lists, technology, internet, google) [...]

  5. The ILM datacenter is actually pretty small. For comparison, I have a 2-terabyte raid 5 just for personal use at my house, that I built for under a $1000. And my work has a a 100 mbit/sec Cogent Fiber line (and we only take one floor of the building we’re in, there’s about 2 dozen businesses with individual 100 mbit/sec lines in my building alone).

    For comparison, Internet2 can sustain ~10 gigabits/sec across the planet, and 1000 gigabit/sec (125 Gigabyte/sec) cluster interconnects aren’t unheard of.

    Honestly, based on the specs you list here, I’d say that ILM is on the small side for a datacenter. If you want a real datacenter, talk about blugene/L. It has 32 TB of RAM!
    Or, some of the giant hardware-based neural networks that are being built. Or, NSA’s unknown datacenter (the old joke is that the NSA doesn’t measure their supercomputing power in operations/second like everyone else, but in acres).

    While we’re at it, I remember reading Krytos had a few typos in it which, imho, should remove it from the list.

  6. Thanks for the correction Michael! I guess that’s the kind of accuracy you get at 3am in the morning.

    Shaneal, what else should we add to our list? A unique and interesting location in the technology world, that is better than those I listed. I wanted to find out more about the New York Stock Exchange system, it’s very unique from what I read. Especially since the merger with the Euro stock exchange.

  7. While the ILM datacenter may not be epic compared to some datacenters out there, I think it’s the incredible special effects in films that have come out of this studio that makes ILM a solid choice by Hudson in my mind.

  8. New Seven Wonders « Homeschool 2.0 says:

    [...] UPDATE: Vibrant posts Seven Wonders of the Tech World. Includes one that is a code to be broken. [...]

  9. I don’t view the Googleplex or the Apple Store as wonders of the tech world but of the design world. They’re certainly both great examples of new thinking in architecture and business space but don’t incorporate any breathtaking technology. Perhaps Google’s massive network of datacenters might qualify but serving wheatgrass shots in the cafeteria doesn’t put you on a technical par with a true wonder like the Hubble Space Telescope or the International Space Station.

    Likewise, Apple’s NYC store is pretty but to call it a wonder of the tech world? Only in the mind of the most virulent of Apple fanboys would this get included while leaving off true technological wonders like the International Human Genome Project, the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, the BlueGene and RedStorm supercomputers, or the Large Hadron Collider.

  10. Definitely a good point, HutchScout… those are great suggestions. If Hudson was focusing solely on the technical aspects of his seven picks, the Apple Store and Googleplex probably wouldn’t have made the cut. Just depends on the definition of “tech world” I guess…

  11. Hutchscout, great suggestions, especially the Large Hadron Collider. I would guess that Hudson saw the Apple Store and the Googleplex as iconic representations of revered (and by some feared) tech giants.

  12. How about Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works? That’s their secret facility for developing aircraft that the rest of us will find out about 15 years after they’ve been in service … lots of crazy high-tech stuff going on in there

  13. This is really interesting! I didn’t know apple had an “opus store”… and yeah Googleplexis for me should really be a part of the 7 wonders of the technical world.

    The new 7 wonders

  14. John Scholes says:

    How about some of the physics databases recording particle collisions? From memory they are much larger than 150TB and accessed from collaborators around the world (all the grid computing stuff). I also tend to yawn at at the ILM datacenter.

  15. That was a great article! If I could make a suggestion, ad the messages from the Kryptos…

  16. Bruno Pinheiro says:

    Man, I just LOVED Captain Goodnight !!

  17. …for me Googleplexis should really be a part of the 7 wonders of the technical world!!!

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